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Learn More About Groundwater

Water flowing from a well.

What is Groundwater?

Groundwater acts as a large reservoir to keep cold, clean water in springs, streams, and wetlands. Groundwater fills the spaces between soil particles and fractured rock beneath the earth’s surface.

On average, 40 percent of all flow in United States rivers and streams originates as groundwater. Only 2.5 percent of global water is freshwater – the rest is saltwater, in the Earth’s oceans and other places. Of all the freshwater available to people to use, 99 percent is groundwater.


Connecting to Groundwater

Enjoy fishing on National Forests and Grasslands? Lakes and streams generally depend on groundwater to keep water flows and temperatures consistent to support fish and other aquatic life. Many of our nation’s favorite swimming holes, hiking trails, and recreation spots are at springs, spring-fed rivers, and caves.

Communities and industries such as agriculture depend on water from wells in groundwater aquifers. Come visit your local National Forest or Grassland and learn more about how you can conserve and enjoy groundwater, or check out the links below:




Forest Service Groundwater Educational Resources


FS NatureLIVE Distance Learning AdventuresForest Service NatureLive illustrated icon.

Welcome to our FSNatureLIVE distance learning adventures! The USDA Forest Service, Prince William Network and partners bring nature learning to you through our series of webcasts, webinars, and online education resources. No matter where you are in the world, visit our LIVE programs for exciting, on-site learning. Broadcasts include topics related to groundwater such as freshwater, climate change, wetlands, caves and karst, and more! All materials are available on the FSNatureLIVE website free of charge.

Natural Inquirer

Natural Inquirer Icon - an illustrated bee holding a magifying glass up to its eye.The Natural Inquirer program produces a variety of science education materials for PreK through grade 12. Natural Inquirer products are produced by the USDA Forest Service, the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association (CFAIA), and other cooperators and partners. Topics related to groundwater include freshwater, climate change, and caves and karst. All Natural Inquirer materials are available to educators and the public free of charge.

Discovery AgentsDiscovery Agents illustrated icon.

The Forest Service has partnered with Discovery Agents to create an educational platform that enables you to create and publish your own geolocation and augmented reality mobile games! Discovery Agents is an educational mobile game, for kids 6 to 14 years of age, that is available for free to download in the App Store and Google Play. The game sends kids on an adventure to help recover the Discovery Agents’ lost USBees, which are robotic bees that store knowledge about the world. The USBees escaped from the Queen Bee’s Hive! (Oh no!) Players must explore the real world to find the USBees and recover the lost knowledge by solving educational challenges at participating sites. There are missions up on the site currently related to groundwater, including investigation of wetlands!


Forest Service NatureWatch illustrated icon.The NatureWatch program is managed and administered by the Forest Service Wildlife, Fish, Rare Plant Program in cooperation with the program sponsors and partners. Projects in the field include partnerships numbering in the thousands! The program is geared to:

  • Provide nature viewing opportunities
  • Encourage safe and sound viewing ethics
  • Contribute to local economies

More than half of the American public enjoys observing, studying, or photographing the vast varieties of fish, wildflowers, wildlife, and scenery. This trend is predicted to more than double by the year 2040. In recognition of growing this growing popularity, the NatureWatch program is designed to allow people to experience wildlife, fish, and flowers in their natural settings; to promote recreational viewing opportunities, facilitate learning about the environment, and to promote conservation efforts and wise use of natural resources. The NatureWatch Program is for children K-6th, and for adult recreationists, wildlife enthusiasts, hikers, photographers, anglers, hunters - all outdoors people!


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